Touché Amoré’s 2016 album Stage Four was such a profound and affecting experience that it was almost hard to imagine where the band could go next. The raw, naked honesty on display on that album made it tempting to imagine that Touché Amoré, that most famously raw and honest of bands, had no new layers of skin for them to claw away at. However long time fans kept faith, safe in the knowledge that the L.A. post-hardcore group had much left to explore and uncover.
Where Stage Four was an attempt to reconcile with the illness and death of a loved one, Lament is about coming to terms with that loss in the long term. It’s an exploration of the day to day sadness, grief and depression that comes with experiencing loss, but also of the things that remind us of why life is worth living. Vocalist and lyricist Jeremy Bolm has long been an intensely forensic analyst of his own neurosis and emotions, and on Lament he dissects as deeply as he ever has before, discovering some mature and poignant insights on life after death.
From the very start of Lament Bolm tells us that the album will be about recovery, and how one of the key requirements of it will be to look outside of oneself, and take stock of everything that remains. Opener ‘Come Heroine’ is an appraisal of Bolm’s partner, who “lights the way when each day begins'' and who “with open arms brought down the walls I defend”. The track is a disarming combo of very heavy (its final section is a guaranteed pit-opener) and heart-meltingly sweet. Bolm’s declarations, including the lovely line “you brought me in and reversed the entropy”, are all gorgeous and as about as kind and open-hearted as you’ll ever hear on a hardcore song.
‘Reminders’ is the perfect encapsulation of the album’s philosophy. The sing-along chorus of “I need reminders of the love I have, I need reminders good or bad, I tilt my chin up in photographs, a subtle way to reinvent the past” is perhaps Lament’s definitive lyric. A reminder that we can carry on through grief by noticing seemingly minor details and actions, it’s a great summation of Bolm’s nuanced and thoughtful approach to the sensitive subject matter.
When talking about Touché Amoré it’s easy to focus on Bolm and his confessional thematics. This is for good reason, his presence looms so large over the band that it’s easy not to notice the work of the musicians behind him. Whether their work is as superlative as Bolm’s is open for debate, there’s a reasonable argument to say that Bolm’s work wouldn’t have the same impact without the music behind him, however it’s also easy to argue that his work is what raises Touche Amore above simply being just another good emotional hardcore band. Lament doesn’t answer any of these questions, however the steel guitars of ‘A Broadcast’ and pianos of ‘A Forecast’ along with the usual post-rock guitars and furious drums makes for a solid musical step forward for the band.
Lament is another small miracle from Touché Amoré. Their raw and empathetic approach is never anything but a pleasure to experience and absorb, and feels all the more essential in such angry and divided times. However the themes of Lament stretch beyond just the fraught here and now, speaking to wider concerns about life and death, which, as an artist, is perhaps the ultimate goal that can be achieved.
Lament is released October 9th via Epitaph Records. Pre-order the album here.